Health and Safety In Brazil

Although seen as being a poverty-stricken third world country, Brazil boasts one of the best heath-care systems in the world with a ratio of doctors to people that would make the developed world proud. Nonetheless, as with any travel, certain health and safety precautions do need to be considered. To assist you, the following are highlights of some issues on health and safety in Brazil:

Major Illnesses Brazil"s major illnesses center on the fact of it being a tropical country. In this regard, nearly all of Brazil"s potentially serious illness are carried and transmitted by mosquitoes. Needless to say, avoid mosquito bites is a very sensible approach to take in Brazil. However, by and large this may be impractical. To try as best you can to avoid mosquitoes, try not to use perfumes and after-shaves; use a mosquito net when you sleep (ideally this will also be impregnated with pyrethrum, a mosquito repellent); and also impregnate your clothes with pyrethrum. If practical and possible, wear light clothes with long sleeves and trousers.

Among the major illnesses you may contract, are:

- malaria: malaria is contracted via mosquito bites. Symptoms of the illness manifest themselves as a fever, chills and sweating, headaches, diarrhea, and abdominal pains. Although potentially fatal, the disease can be avoided if you are willing to take preventative medication before, during, and after your journey.

- dengue fever: dengue fever is contracted via mosquito bites (importantly, these need to be mosquito bites that you get during daylight hours). Symptoms of the illness include the onset of a high fever, headache, joint muscle pains, nausea and vomiting. In certain cases you may also contract a rash of red spots 3 to 4 days after the onset of the fever. Usually dengue fever can be avoided by avoiding highly densely populated urban squalors, where the disease is more prevalent than elsewhere. In the event that you think you may have dengue fever, as a medical professional to give you a blood test to confirm this suspicion.

- rabies: rabies is prevalent in most third-world nations, and South America is no different in this respect. A cautionary note is that rabies is contracted via infected animals - so don"t think the stray dog is cute and fed it! If you think you may have been infected, or if you have been bitten or licked by an animal unknown to you or anyone nearby, take yourself off the hospital for a course of preventive injections - rabies is not a pleasant way to die!

- yellow fever: yellow fever is yet another of the illnesses you can contract in Brazil via a mosquito bite! Symptoms include a mild fever that develops into a full-blown fever, headaches, muscle pains, abdominal pain and vomiting. In a worst case scenario, kidney failure is a possibility. Symptoms of the illness also include a jaundice yellow look about you with clear white eyes (hence the name of the illness). Note that in most cases yellow fever can be avoided by means of an immunization vacation before you depart for your holiday.

As a tropical nation, Brazil may have a number of illnesses that are not standard or common in your home country. As such, please make sure that you seek a consultation with your medical practitioner before you leave and ask what advice they would give to anyone traveling to Brazil. For peace of mind sake, you should also seek a consultation with your medical practitioner upon your return home from your travels in Brazil.

Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in Brazil Brazil has an estimated 16,000 hospitals, clinics and local health centers where you can safely visit and be attended to by one of Brazil's estimated 200,000 qualified physicians. Brazil also boast some of the most advanced medical care available globally and some of the cheapest. Note, however, that Brazil's Joint Health System has also been said to be one of the largest health networks in the world today.

Safety Issues in Brazil Overall Brazil is a safe country to travel in. However, there is a rather large disparity between rich and poor and poverty is a big social problem. Consequently, petty property crimes (such as pick pocketing) are known to occur. That said, provided you adopt a common sense approach to safety issues, don't travel outside areas where you are conspicuous, and are not flaunting your wealth (for example, gold chains and Rolex watches), you should be okay.

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